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Our Danish correspondent Karsten Pultz on how evo folk and ID folk think differently when arguing

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Karsten Pultz:

A debate I’m currently involved in with some theistic evolutionists, has for me produced a realization. There is one huge difference in how evolutionists and ID folks can argue for their views.

ID has the benefit of being able to argue for design by comparing to objects we know for certain were intelligently designed. Evolution does not have this advantage.

I frequently compare the flagellum motor to the electric motor because they have so many parts in common that it is silly to consider one designed while the other a product of blind unguided evolution. The ATP synthase is another component from the living world you can compare to engineered machinery. It too has individual parts that are analogous to motor parts for instance a camshaft-like axle with an excentric that mechanically opens protein subunits during the shaft’s rotation, a feature also found in some pumps . Another comparable feature from nature is the cog operated synchronisation in grasshopper’s legs, – a system that is 100 % analogues to the synchronization of the throttles in some twin choke carburettors.

So ID supporters can substantiate their claims by comparing specific features in living organisms to objects we know for sure were designed. But what about evolutionists?

Bestil Exit Evolution på nettet. 198 kr.

Evolution by unguided processes is a phenomenon not observed anywhere. It is purely an abstract idea thought to be detected solely as the causal agent in nature. Evolution cannot be compared to anything because no thing but nature is assumed to be the product of this particular process. Evolutionists are therefore placed in a much worse situation when it comes to arguing for their view, because they can’t point to any other area for comparison, where evolution or an evolution-like process has produced complex functional systems and machinery.

Proponents of ID can point to actual design when making their case while evolutionists can point to nothing, because nothing has ever been produced by an evolution-by random mutation and natural selection-process.

Now think about it. Many investigative areas rely on us being able to compare. Because the universe is governed by laws, we expect similar effects to have been produced by similar causes. Any investigation which purpose is to try to establish a cause for an observed object, event or phenomenon will use comparison to already known causes and effects. ID can do that but evolution can’t. Evolution as a causal explanation for a phenomenon is yet to be established, it is an explanation which still needs to show up as a fact for the first time.

Intelligent design is a cause we already know exists and hence we can compare features in living things with for instance machinery that we know for certain is designed. Evolutionists are deprived this luxury, their point of reference is an abstraction not a comparison to an existing well known cause.

You only start looking for a new and previously unknown cause, when you have run out of all known causes as possible explanation. What has happened in the field of biology is that a well known causal explanation has been completely replaced by a new previously unknown and entirely theoretical one. This is kind of weird because the well known cause, namely design, could still be around and taken into consideration as plausible explanation for instance in the cases ID is pointing to. Instead design has been totally abandoned. I cannot imagine any other investigative discipline where you would discard a perfectly good causal explanation that is known to produce those phenomena you are observing.

If ID became the ruling hypothesis would evolution then be discarded? I don’t think so because certain properties of nature would still best be explained by evolutionary mechanisms.

An a priori exclusion of intelligent design as causal explanation is illogical, unreasonable and unscientific in the same way it would be if forensic scientists always concluded death by accident because they in advance had ruled out the possibility of death by design.

Pultz is the author of Exit Evolution.

16 Replies to “Our Danish correspondent Karsten Pultz on how evo folk and ID folk think differently when arguing

  1. 1
    MikeW says:

    Karsten, while it’s true that no Darwinian process of random mutation and natural selection has ever been observed to create any novel biological cell, it’s also true that no known process of intelligent design has ever been observed to produce any novel biological cell, either. Evolution by unguided processes has been observed in many areas, e.g. stellar evolution, solar system evolution, river canyon evolution, etc. If Darwinists aren’t allowed to extrapolate those processes to unobserved evolution of novel biological cells, why should IDers be allowed to extrapolate their process? Why can’t an evolutionary process guided by a theistic god (i.e. theistic evolution) be the correct answer?

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Nice question begging MikeW. Craig Venter and co. synthesized a genome. We never observed nature doing so.

    Living organisms are ruled by coded information processing systems. There isn’t any evidence that nature can produce them. There isn’t even a way to test the claim that it could. That means it isn’t science.

    There is ONE and ONLY one known cause for producing coded information processing systems and that is via intelligent agency volition. So using our knowledge of cause and effect relationships in accordance with Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning, we infer the genetic code was intelligently designed. Science 101

  3. 3
    johnnyb says:

    MikeW –

    In all the processes you mention, we actually *are* generally extrapolating. However, what makes those extrapolations much more sound is that none of them create information. There is no code inside stars. They all can be detected as products of physics.

    However, there are many reasons why information-bearing entities should not be considered products of physics. I’ll get to the reasons in a moment. The extrapolation of ID is not that humans can make cells (in fact, we can’t), but there is a type of effect within cells that humans have a causal power to create that the inanimate world doesn’t – information. There may be *other* requirements as well that we don’t even recognize yet. However, one of the requirements we *do* recognize we have a distinct cause that we know produces it – agency.

    So, why doesn’t inanimate matter produce information? There are a lot of different reasons, but the reasoning behind them is usually the same – complex reciprocal dependencies. That is, A requires B, but B requires A, and both are sufficiently improbable that we can’t rely on either of them even existing, let alone together.

    Some papers on this subject:

    Biological Function and the Genetic Code are Interdependent” (covers the relationship of Godel Incompleteness to the origin of a self-replicating code, and why this is considered a mental process)

    The Possibility of Spontaneous Generation of Self-Replicating Systems” (covers the minimal information length required for self-replication in an abstract (i.e., non-physical) space)

    “Developing Insights into the Design of the Simplest Self-Replicator” (Part 1, Part 2) (covers the requirements of self-replication in a physical space)

    Irreducible Complexity and Relative Irreducible Complexity” (shows why, using computability theory, selection points the wrong way for any significant development absent prior guiding information)

    You also asked, “Why can’t an evolutionary process guided by a theistic god (i.e. theistic evolution) be the correct answer?”

    That *is* an ID answer. ID, by itself, is only against *unguided* evolution. See “Intelligent Design is Not What Most People Think It Is” and “ID and Common Descent“. In case you think we’re pulling a switcheroo, the first article is from a few weeks ago, and the second article is more than a decade old.

    As an example, Michael Behe, one of the most prominent ID proponents, believes precisely this, and has said so since his first book, “Darwin’s Black Box”.

  4. 4
    MikeW says:

    ET@2, sorry but Venter never synthesized a novel genome. What Venter has done is to knock out genes from an existing genome to see what kinds of minimum genomes can continue to function. Calling that “synsthesis” is like a mechanic tearing out a radio from a car, and then claiming to have synthesized a new car.

    Venter and others have also copied genes from one genome to another, e.g. to transfer traits from one type of life to another. But calling that gene “synthesis” is like a mechanic tearing a radio out of one car, putting it into another car, and then claiming to have synthesized a new car. Sorry, not buying that one, either.

  5. 5
    MikeW says:

    Johnnyb@3, I agree that inanimate matter cannot produce complex specified information. That has been clearly proven by IDers. But what I’m saying is that IDers have yet to prove that an intelligent design process can produce the incredibly complicated information and structures of life.

    Darwinists are like people who claim that record-setting Olympic jumpers will one day jump over the Moon. IDers may be like those who disprove “jumping” but then claim that their hot air balloons can get them to the Moon. In reality, both are wrong. The complexity of life is so extreme that the extrapolation from ID to life may be similar to that of balloons to the Moon.

  6. 6
    MikeW says:

    ET@2, I will concede that Venter did “synthesize” a totally non-functional gene sequence that he inserted into his “synthetic” cell as a watermark id to mark his claim. That’s like a mechanic transferring a radio and carpet from one car to another, and then spray-painting his name on the side of the car to claim his new “synthetic” car. Not buying that one, either.

  7. 7
    jerry says:

    Whatever life is, its secrets are not in the genome. There are much more complex things going on besides protein synthesis.

    But because of Watson and Crick amazing discovery we act as if it is the only important aspect of life but it’s just a side show. The controls for a cell and a multi-organism entity are some place else. Nobody knows where or how things are controlled.

    ID has to recognize this and emphasize it. But ID is just playing the Darwinian game. It will lose if it continues.

    As a starter, someone will have to map the cell membrane molecule by molecule to see if may possibly contain a control system. If it doesn’t then look at some other possible place. Something is controlling the activities of a cell. They don’t happen by chance.

    What would freak out the biology community is if some ID scientist started to find functional control in places other than the genome. That would change the game big time.

  8. 8
    martin_r says:

    ID has the benefit of being able to argue for design by comparing to objects we know for certain were intelligently designed.

    I am an engineer. Darwinian biologists (natural science graduates) are story tellers. They never made anything… but i admit, they are very talented story tellers ….

    The following was published few days ago:

    Tesla boss Elon Musk admits autonomous tech is “a hard problem” and the “difficulty is obvious”

    Tesla boss Elon Musk has finally admitted what many automotive industry experts have long realised: autonomous vehicle technology is a lot more difficult than it seems, due to the countless variables a car must learn, detect, and avoid while on the move.

    In addition to being able to detect lanes, other vehicles, traffic signals and pedestrian movement, fully autonomous cars must learn to pre-empt the behaviour of other drivers and pedestrians in the same way a human would, an almost impossible task.

    Yet, in 21st century, Darwinian biologists (natural science graduates), with a straight face, will tell you a absurd story on how very advanced, fully autonomous, self-navigating, self-replicating, flying systems self-design and self-assembled. Moreover, they will tell you, that this miracle should have happened repeatedly, multiple times, independently ( birds, insects, dinos, mammals )

    No engineers needed, no knowledge in physics, math, material science, advanced engineering was needed …. blind unguided natural process did it … how does that sound in 21st century ? Do Darwinian biologists live in some parallel universe?

    So lets close all technical universities around the world, and lets send future engineers to take lessons from evolutionary biology. Richard Dawkins will give you a lesson on how to design an autonomous self-navigating flying system …

    PS: someone should get in touch with Elon, and tell him the secret… he should contact Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins and ask them for help with his autonomous cars…

  9. 9 says:

    “certain properties of nature would still best be explained by evolutionary mechanisms.” really?!? I see “evolution” failing wherever I look.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    MikeW @ 6, you are confused. Venter synthesized a (bacterial) genome that he inserted into an existing bacterium that had its genome removed.

  11. 11
    MikeW says:

    ET@10, can you name one functional gene that Venter actually “synthesized”, i.e. created de novo from scratch? According to Venter’s own paper, he didn’t create any new functioning genes. And to his credit, he admitted this in subsequent interviews. What he actually did was identify existing functional genes, then he used existing natural genetic machinery (e.g. CRISPR) to build them and to insert them into an existing bacterial cell. While this is certainly impressive, it’s a far cry from “artificial life”, and more like “intelligently designed plagiarism”, as noted in the article below.

  12. 12
    MikeW says:

    ET@10, even in the unlikely event that scientists one day are able to actually synthesize the genome of a living cell with novel, human-designed genes, that still doesn’t even scratch the surface of the cell’s complexity. For example, a single cell’s interactome has 10^79,000,000,000 degrees of freedom. Since there are only about 10^86 elementary particles in the known universe, there is no way that the cell itself could be built from non-living matter using all the resources of the known universe (The Levinthal Paradox). Good luck figuring out the design process of something that is impossible to construct.

  13. 13
    es58 says: here’s a scientist using arguments specifically to prove covid was designed and did not evolve

  14. 14
    es58 says:

    Watson and Crick amazing discovery while unquestionably ingenious was it seems following up on a *prediction* by Von Neumann

  15. 15
    Querius says:

    ES58 @13,
    Thanks for the link. Absolutely chilling.

    If you haven’t seen it Jon Stewart yet on the lab leak theory . . .


  16. 16
    es58 says:

    Here’s a follow up to the previous post about proving covid didn’t evolve. Followed by a couple links from the same hearing that sheds more light.;

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